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Flat Racing Elite set for Royal Meeting

It’s more than likely that the usual suspects will be celebrating another successful Royal Ascot.

And that’s to be expected, at a meeting where major players send their ‘big guns’. For sure, the best from Ireland and the UK will be in attendance. There’ll be a scattering of French flair, and add to that a dash of American and Australian power to maximise the international flavour.

Charlie Appleby and John Gosden appear the form duo from the home nation. The former can do no wrong, with Godolphin reaping the benefits. John Gosden has suffered an early season blow, with Enable currently on the sidelines. Nevertheless, he has a powerful team primed to inflict maximum mayhem, aided by a cocky Italian with a perfect sense of occasion.

Aidan O’Brien is sure to hold a strong hand and regularly leaves the Royal meeting as the leading trainer, though punters should resist the temptation of blindly following Ballydoyle contenders. This gathering isn’t like Cheltenham or Punchestown, where following Willie Mullins automatically leads to winners. Aidan and the boys are the dominant force on the flat, but opposition at Royal Ascot is exceptionally strong.

Andre Fabre and Jean-Claude Rouget tend to send a handful of challengers across the Channel, with a certain amount of success. Le Brivido landed the Jersey Stakes for Fabre 12 months ago, whilst Rouget’s Qemah took the Duke Of Cambridge.

Wes Ward will again lead an American assault, hoping that Lady Aurelia can achieve a trio of Royal Ascot victories. Whilst Redkirk Warrior arrives from Australia with the Diamond Jubilee Stakes the likely target.

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So just who are the leading contenders from the sports elite?

Ballydoyle appear to have a hugely talented contingent, with serious challengers in numerous events. Rhododendron landed the Lockinge last time and is the current favourite for the opening race of the meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes. She’s a class act and looks sure to go close. O’Brien has had plenty of success in the Gold Cup over recent years and will have Order Of St George primed for another crack at the prize. He won the race in 2016 and went down by just a short-head to Big Orange 12 months ago.

O’Brien’s youngsters tend to make their mark at the Royal Meeting and this year’s crop look a talented bunch. Sergei Prokofiev is favourite for the Coventry Stakes following a stunning victory at Naas last time. This son of Scat Daddy is thought to be an outstanding prospect. Also renowned for producing high class fillies, O’Brien appears to have another classy duo in Fairyland and Just Wonderful. Both could line up in the Queen Mary Stakes.

Returning three-year-olds Clemmie and Sioux Nation are also expected to go well. The former was one of the yard’s best juveniles and would have needed the run when beaten in the Irish Guineas recently. The latter is a speedy son of Scat Daddy out of an Oasis Dream mare. He’s one of the best looking colts in training, and is currently favourite for the Commonwealth Cup.

John Gosden has some of the greatest flat racing talent in his Newmarket stable. His Arc heroine, Enable, is currently out of action, but he has a sensational replacement in Cracksman. The Champion Stakes winner will be lining up in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and is rated 7lb higher than his only serious rival, Godolphin’s Benbatl.

Gosden also has Without Parole heading the market for the St James’s Palace Stakes. I must confess that I’m not a fan. He beat a handicapper at Yarmouth in April and barely scraped home in a listed event at Sandown last time. Though this looks quite a weak renewal, I’d still fancy something from the English or Irish Guineas to have a little more class than Gosden’s fella.

The trainer does have a huge chance of lifting the Gold Cup, thanks to the talented and gutsy four-year-old Stradivarius. He has Order Of St George to beat, and one can envisage a pulsating finish with little to choose between the pair.

Lah Ti Dar missed the Oaks at Epsom but is expected to make the start for the Ribblesdale. She’ll likely have Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion to beat, though quick ground would certainly help her cause. She’s looked talented thus far, though this is a far tougher assignment.

Gosden also has a couple of classy juveniles in the yard in Calyx and Legends Of War. It seems that only the former will now be taking on Ballydoyle’s Sergei Prokofiev in the Coventry Stakes, though the clash remains a mouth-watering one.

The Andre Fabre-trained Wind Chimes is set to take her chance in the Group One Coronation Stakes. Just touched off in the French 1000 Guineas by David Simcock’s Teppal, she was possibly a little unlucky that day, and there’s every chance she’ll reverse that form. She ought to go very close.

Along with Lady Aurelia, Wes Ward is likely to send Moonlight Romance and Shang Shang Shang for the juvenile events. Bound For Nowhere looks a live contender for the Diamond Jubilee having finished fourth in the Commonwealth Cup last year. And Undrafted looks an interesting entrant in the Wokingham Stakes. He took the Group One Diamond Jubilee back in 2015 and was only a couple of lengths back in sixth a year later. Though now an eight-year-old, he remains a classy type and will run off a mark of 103.

Expect thrilling clashes between some of flat racing’s most powerful yards, at the sports most prestigious event. Jump racing has Cheltenham, whilst the Flat has Royal Ascot. It’s as simple as that.

Gosden’s Lion set to Roar as Classics draw near

Newmarket is in the midst of the Craven Meeting, supplying early clues for the opening Classics in May.

The feature event takes place on Thursday, with last year’s Racing Post Trophy runner-up, Roaring Lion, set to get his season up and running. Gosden’s youngster is currently third-favourite for the colts’ classic behind Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior. Yes, the major forces in Flat racing are set to go head to head once again.

Roaring Lion will be a short-priced favourite on Thursday with the Charlie Appleby pair of Masar and Glorious Journey leading the challenge. Speaking yesterday, Appleby said: “Masar flew in from Dubai this week and is fit and well. The combination of his unfamiliarity with the dirt surface and a wide draw means that you can put a line through his latest Meydan run, but at least he has the benefit of a run. He is a colt that has shown his inexperience in the past, but he’s done plenty of racing and travelling and he has been getting better with every race. If he brings his strong Jean-Luc Lagardere and Solario form into the Craven, it will make him a major player.”

According to the markets, his other contender has the best chance of toppling the favourite: “Glorious Journey has also been in Dubai and has done very well, but whatever he does on Thursday, there will be some improvement in him,” the trainer added. “The race he won was not the strongest of Group three’s, but he couldn’t have done any more than stay unbeaten. I walked the course on Monday and I would be amazed if it is not good ground by Thursday. We know all about the Rowley Mile’s incredible drying capabilities and it will suit Masar, who is a quick ground horse.”

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The Craven has gone to classy sorts in the past, including last year’s winner Eminent, who went on to win a Group Two in France prior to a place finish in the Group One Irish Champion Stakes. Team Hannon took four Craven’s in a row from 2012 to 2015, with winners including Toronado and Toormore. The former came fourth in the Guineas, before going on to capture a pair of Group Ones. Toormore landed his only Group One as a juvenile, though had several victories in Group Two’s in subsequent campaigns, and also coming within a neck of taking the Lochinge.

Haafhd in 2004 was the last horse to win the Craven Stakes prior to victory in the 2000 Guineas. Trained by Barry Hills and owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he was particularly potent at Newmarket, winning on four of his five visits. The final success came in the Champion Stakes run over 10-furlongs, defeating a high-class field which included Azamour, Norse Dancer, Refuse To Bend and Doyen.

Chances are that Thursday’s Craven will fail to provide a Guineas winner, though in Masar, Glorious Journey and Roaring Lion, we have horses of huge potential, with the right sort of pedigree and high-profile connections.

But, before the Colts get their opportunity to shine, the fillies will take centre-stage in today’s Nell Gwyn Stakes. As was the case with the boys, it’s been a while since the winner of this went on to 1000 Guineas glory. The front-running Speciosa was the last to do so in 2006. Having landed the Classic in May, she failed to win another of her nine further career starts.

Frankie Dettori has an extraordinary record in the race, having won seven in total, including the last four. His association with John Gosden accounts for the last two, though today he’ll be aboard Juliet Foxtrot, trained by Charlie Hills. Testing ground probably played a part in her disappointing final juvenile display at Naas last September. Sporting the familiar silks of Khalid Abdullah, she’s by Dansili out of a King’s Best mare, and will surely appreciate a sounder surface.

The Mark Johnston-trained, Threading, also disappointed on her final two-year-old start, though that came in a strong looking renewal of the Cheveley Park, won by Aidan O’Brien’s high-class filly Clemmie. She sits at the head of the betting, having impressed in the Lowther at York, though much will, of course, depend on how she has progressed over the winter.

Jim Crowley gets the leg-up aboard John Gosden’s Nawassi. A daughter of Dubawi, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned filly probably didn’t beat an awful lot at Newmarket in November but nevertheless looked a juvenile full of potential.
Soliloquy is also by Dubawi though owned by Godolphin. Charlie Appleby will be looking to build on an impressive winter at Meydan, and this filly could prove useful.

We’re sure to learn plenty in the coming days and hopefully get a few pointers for the Guineas meeting that’s just a few weeks away.

Record Breaking O’Brien is a Donny Dazzler

Doncaster played host to history in the making, as Aidan O’Brien broke Bobby Frankel’s record when landing the 26th Group One of the season in the Racing Post Trophy.

Saxon Warrior proved a worthy favourite when bravely fending off what had looked a race winning surge from the John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion. Ryan Moore had hit the front at the two-furlong mark, but looked set for the runner-up spot as Oisin Murphy swept past. As Gosden’s talented youngster wandered off a true line, it was Moore who galvanised his mount for a renewed effort, and as the line approached Saxon Warrior responded tenaciously.

O'Brien said of the winner: “He travelled very strong and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride. When John's horse went by him you thought he was beaten, but he found plenty and we're delighted. Ryan said he'd have no problem being a Guineas horse, so we could start off in that and go on, but there's plenty of stamina in his pedigree. I think he'll be comfortable at anything from a mile to a mile and a half. He's a very special horse, we think. He's done everything we've asked of him and he's only been a baby.”

Moore was also impressed, saying: “He's a beautiful horse and he gave me so much confidence the whole race. It wasn't going right, but he's very good and that's the difference - they're beautiful horses that are beautifully prepared. When the other horse came, I hadn't asked my lad a question.”

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Saxon Warrior’s performance was understandably overshadowed by the history making trainer. O’Brien was modest as ever, though clearly thrilled with the achievement, when saying: “It's incredible. I'm so delighted for everyone, I'm thrilled. You just don't expect it, all you can do is your best. I feel so proud for everyone. It's a privilege to be working with such special people. We're in a very lucky position and we're a small link in a big chain.

“It is so hard to win Group Ones that I never expect it. We've just got a great team, that's at the heart of it. The lads (Coolmore trio of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor) do a great job breeding and buying the horses and it is our job not to damage them. It's been a funny year really. A lot of horses have progressed and progressed. There were so many horses like that, it was unusual. A lot of very well-bred horses just got better and better.”

The record had stood since 2003, and the master of Ballydoyle had come close on numerous occasions. But after a quick-fire opening to the 2017 campaign, O’Brien managed to maintain the momentum throughout, thanks to a stunning array of thoroughbred talent.

Churchill got the show on the road back in May when landing the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Just a day later it was the turn of Winter to prove herself the outstanding three-year-old filly at a mile, as she romped to victory in the 1000 Guineas. The pair went on to repeat the feat in Ireland at the end of May, ensuring that the race to 26 was well and truly on.

His Classic generation proved exceptional, especially the fillies. Along with the outstanding Winter, Roly Poly weighed in with vital Group One victories. And then came a late rattle from another dazzling duo in Rhododendron and Hydrangea.

But it is the dominance of the Juvenile division that truly sets O’Brien and the Ballydoyle Boys apart. In Clemmie and Happily they have a pair of Group One fillies with the potential to reign supreme at three. And then there’s the young colt’s U S Navy Flag and of course Saturday’s Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior.

Both past and present have been wonderfully glorious for all connected to the ‘Ballydoyle Bandwagon’. And with history now made, the future looks set to be just as triumphant.

Girl Power – Fab Fillies Bashing The Boys

In the equine battle of the sexes, the fillies have more than held their own throughout the Flat campaign of 2017. Enable was without doubt the shining light, though others have landed major blows, and there remains time for several more to dazzle.

John Gosden’s stable star had already put the fellas in their place with a stunning success in the King George at Ascot, before confirming her supremacy over the colts with an emphatic victory in the Arc at Chantilly. She stands head and shoulders above her equine peers after a glorious and triumphant summer.

Winter may have fluffed her lines in the Arc, but like Minding 12 months ago, she seems destined for a grand finale on Champions Day at Ascot. She looks set to take in the Champion Stakes at 1m2f rather than the QEII at a mile. Team Ballydoyle have Churchill to consider, and it appears that the dual-guineas winner will drop back in trip after his disappointing effort in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

That leaves Winter looking to repeat her impressive success in the Nassau Stakes. She stayed-on powerfully to win at Goodwood, though that victory came against her own sex. She may well have Cracksman and Barney Roy to contend with at Ascot. The drop back in trip may not be ideal for the former, whilst the latter could prove the biggest danger to O’Brien’s filly, having run another solid race in the Juddmonte International at York.

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Ballydoyle’s Minding defeated Godolphin’s Ribchester in the QE11 12 months ago. There’s every chance that the Irish powerhouse could again get the better of the ‘Boys in Blue’, with Winter striking for the fillies against Godolphin’s Barney Roy.

Another filly with star quality and a reputation for bashing the boys, is Karl Burke’s sprinting sensation Quiet Reflection. Absent over the summer, she returned with a stylish success at Naas a couple of weeks back. That run should have her fighting fit for Ascot, and if the ground is in her favour (soft ground ideal), she looks capable of putting up a serious challenge. Harry Angel has looked sensational in recent starts, but Burke’s filly is something special in testing conditions.

Another that shows signs of returning to her best is Ballydoyle’s Rhododendron. At Chantilly she took the Prix de l’Opera, getting the better of stablemate Hydrangea in a thrilling finish. It’s worth remembering that she was unlucky in running when runner-up to Winter in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. She was then travelling better than Enable at the two-furlong pole in the Epsom Oaks, before being out-stayed by this year’s star filly.

She bled in the French Oaks and it took some time for O’Brien and his team to get her back on the track. She’s likely to head to America for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and a decision will then likely be made as to whether she stays in training next season. She’ll need to step forward again if she it to mix-it with the leading colts, but she has the potential of becoming a leading contender for races such as the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes.

Ballydoyle also have in their ranks the leading juvenile fillies who look capable of playing a starring role in the Flat campaign of 2018. Clemmie landed the Cheveley Park at Newmarket on Saturday and is currently favourite for next year’s Guineas. She’s improved rapidly throughout her two-year-old campaign and has the stature to match the talent that she has so clearly displayed on the track. Much depends on her progression over the winter, but she’s certainly an exciting prospect.

The same can be said of next year’s Oaks favourite Happily. She’s already beat the boys, after her power-packed finish to the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly. She was well on top at the end of the eight-furlong trip and is clearly a filly of huge potential. She’s another from the Galileo/Storm Cat bloodline which is also responsible for Clemmie and Churchill.

It’s been another thrilling summer on the flat, thanks in no small measure to the wonderful Enable. Other fillies such as sprinters Lady Aurelia and Marsha, have also played their part in the battle of the sexes. Chances are that there’ll be more of the same in a couple of weeks at Ascot on Champion’s Day.

Classy Juveniles gather at Newmarket

The Arc meeting at Chantilly is understandably receiving the lion’s share of attention this week. Nevertheless, there’ll be plenty of interest in Newmarket over the coming days, as the Cambridgeshire meeting takes centre-stage.

On Friday the Group Two Rockfel Stakes is the headliner, and an event that has been won by numerous high-class juvenile fillies in its time. A handful have captured this and gone on to win the 1000 Guineas the following spring. Finsceal Beo was the last to do so, when completing the double in 2006 and 2007. Speciosa had achieved the same a year earlier. Other classy sorts to capture the valuable prize in recent years include Music Show, Just The Judge and Lucida.

The Roger Charlton-trained Gavota may prove the star attraction in this year’s renewal. An impressive winner at Lingfield last time, the daughter of Bated Breath is out of a Galileo mare, and clearly appreciated the step-up to seven-furlongs when romping home by six lengths. She carries those famous silks of Khalid Abdullah.

Mark Johnston’s Nyaleti sets the standard, having won a Group Three and finished prominent in a pair of Group Two’s. She does however, look a little exposed having run six times already this season. Nevertheless, it will take a classy filly to beat her.

Aidan O’Brien may run two, with Butterscotch looking to be his main hope. She was runner-up to Clemmie last time at the Curragh. Lightening Quick is another Irish challenger, though she is trained by Ger Lyons. This daughter of Frankel won a competitive maiden at Leopardstown on debut, though this is undoubtedly a much tougher proposition.

The Cambridgeshire Handicap takes place on Saturday, but again it’s the juveniles that will attract attention, with three prestigious renewals.

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The Cheveley Park Stakes always attracts talented fillies, and though it tends to uncover classy speedsters, it has occasionally been won by a future Guineas heroine. Special Duty was one such lady. She was yet another to sport those famous Khalid Abdullah silks, when winning impressively in 2009.

Clemmie looks likely to head the betting, and has looked high-class in winning her last two races, including the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge at Newmarket back in July. She’s defeated Nyaleti and Butterscotch in those recent starts, both of whom are fancied to go well in the Rockfel on Friday.

This Cheveley looks a tasty renewal, with the Royal Ascot winner Different League among the contenders. Third in the Prix Morny last time, connections expect her to go well on a track that ought to suit. Her trainer Matthieu Palussiere said: “She will be my first runner at Newmarket. She ran very well in the Prix Morny and could easily have finished second. She’s a fine big, strong filly with a great nature and she looks a picture at the moment.”

Of the track, he added: “The Morny is run over an easy six furlongs, and I think that the stiffer course at Newmarket will be better for her. She handles most ground and if it came up soft it wouldn’t worry me.”

Heartache is arguably the quickest juvenile filly, and her trainer Clive Cox is hopeful that the six-furlong trip will not prove troublesome. He said: “She is in tremendous form. I think and hope that the step up to six furlongs in the Cheveley will be within her boundaries, especially if conditions on the Rowley Mile remain as they are now. She’s a very well-balanced filly, and I hope that she will handle the course well.”

Though the Cheveley Park looks a cracker, it’s the Group One Middle Park Stakes that could prove the race of the meeting. Sands Of Mali, Unfortunately and Sioux Nation are all vying for favouritism. The former was an impressive winner of the Gimcrack last time, comfortably accounting for last week’s Mill Reef runner-up Invincible Army.

The Karl Burke-trained Unfortunately won the Prix Morny at Deauville and prior to that took a Group Two at Maisons-Laffitte. Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation held off Gordon Elliott’s Beckford to win the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last month. He’s by Scat Daddy out of an Oasis Dream mare, and will need the rain to stay away if he is to be seen at his best.

Elliott sends Beckford over the Irish Sea, and is hoping for a big performance from his talented sprinter. He said: “Beckford has come out of the National Stakes well. He didn’t get home over seven furlongs on a testing surface that day and this drop back to six on better ground should be in his favour. Newmarket is a proper racecourse and I don’t think he will have any problem handling its undulations.”

The trainer added: “It would be very nice to win a Group One on the flat but don’t worry, there is no chance that I will be switching my attention away from jump racing.”

The Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes forms part of Saturday’s supporting cast, and appears to be another potential cracker. Frankel famously took this as a juvenile, and Khalid Abdullah has a leading contender on Saturday. The wonderfully named Herculean is a son of Frankel and trained by Roger Charlton. He was a relatively comfortable winner at Ascot on debut, and many will be hoping he can emulate his famous father.

Charlton’s charge faces a Royal Lodge field stacked with talented juveniles. Godolphin’s Masar was an impressive winner of the Solario Stakes at Sandown earlier in the month. He’s bred to appreciate every yard of the one-mile trip. Ballydoyle’s Nelson is progressing at a rare old rate, and looked good at Leopardstown last time. He’s another from the Frankel conveyor belt.

Roaring Lion and Elarqam also look exciting prospects going into the race. The former is trained by John Gosden, whilst the latter is yet another son of Frankel out of the dual 1000 Guineas winning mare Attraction.

It looks sure to prove a thrilling and highly informative meeting, and act as the perfect appetiser, with the Arc to follow on Sunday.

An eye on a Juvenile – Fillies

During this rather quiet period, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the juvenile division, especially after witnessing several promising performances at Newmarket’s July Festival.

I’m starting with the female of the species, and arguably the most impressive two-year-old display of the weekend. The rapidly improving Clemmie, trained by Aidan O’Brien, powered clear in the latter stages to win the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes. Still looking a little green at times, it took her a while to get into top gear. She looks a relentless galloper, rather than a filly with gears, and the stiff final furlong at Newmarket certainly suited. She’s currently second favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas despite being beaten by more than four lengths at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back. She’s clearly a classy sort, and looks the type to continue improving with racing. Though I fancy she’ll become next season’s Roly Poly, rather than a Ballydoyle Winter or Rhododendron.

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Her stoutly bred stable companion September, heads the Guineas market after her romp in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. By Japan’s outstanding stallion Deep Impact, out of Irish Oaks winner Peeping Fawn, her pedigree is exceptional, though points to stamina rather than speed. It’s no surprise to also see her heading the market for next year’s Epsom Oaks, and that sort of trip looks likely to prove her optimum. Unbeaten in just two career starts, her next outing is eagerly anticipated.

Another exciting Irish filly is the Jess Harrington trained Alpha Centauri. She was runner-up to the French filly Different League in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Clemmie further back in seventh. The front pair were some way clear that day, and possibly had something of an edge on the maturity front. Both are physically imposing, and that advantage in stature is sure to change as the season unfolds. A clash in Ireland with Clemmie or September is highly likely for Harrington’s filly, and would further help assess the progression of these two-year-olds. I fancy that Alpha Centauri’s early season advantage may well evaporate.

Different League is trained in France by Matthieu Palussiere, who was formerly an assistant in Ireland to Mick Halford. The filly is by French stallion Dabirsim, himself an exceptional juvenile who captured the Prix Morny and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. It’s impossible to say whether we’ll see her back on our shores, though she is priced up for next season’s 1000 Guineas. The Prix Morny was touted as a possible short-term target.

Clive Cox is having another season to remember, and has an exciting filly, in Royal Ascot winner Heartache. She’s a sprinter, and looked exceptional when thrashing 22 others in the Group Two Queen Mary. Likely to head for the Lowther at York, Cox will be hoping she can progress in a similar fashion to his outstanding sprinter Harry Angel. She’s a way to go to become that good, though the initial signs are promising.

Other classy fillies are sure to be unearthed during the summer, with Ballydoyle more than likely to add to their classy pair of Clemmie and September. It would also come as a surprise should Godolphin not have several potential stars in their midst. Charlie Appleby has plenty of juveniles set to make their debuts in the coming weeks, including smartly bred fillies Piccola Collina, Lunar Maria and Dubhe.

Newmarket’s Historic July Festival

The three-day July Festival at Newmarket begins this afternoon. The event always attracts high-class thoroughbreds, with Saturday’s Darley July Cup the dazzling showpiece.

The meeting has been in existence since 1765, and takes place on the July Course. With a longer downhill portion than the Rowley Mile, the track is a haven for speedsters, though does still have the testing uphill furlong to the finish.

The Group Two July Stakes is one of the opening day highlights. It is the oldest surviving British event for juveniles, and is run over six furlongs. Open to colts or geldings, the race has been won by some ‘nifty’ sorts over the years. Green Desert took the 1985 renewal, and a year later captured the July Cup. He went on to become a prodigious stallion, producing outstanding sprinters.

One such speedster was Invincible Spirit, and he became the sire of the 2015 July Stakes winner Shalaa. Trained by John Gosden, the dynamic youngster became the top-rated British juvenile, capturing the Richmond Stakes, the Prix Morny and the Middle Park Stakes, during a stunning campaign. Beset by injury as a three-year-old, he never reached his full potential on the racecourse.

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Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe, is one of the potential stars of today’s meeting, and will be looking to make it three from three in the July Stakes.

Always a star-attraction on the Flat circuit is Frankie Dettori. And he will be relishing his return to action, having spent a month on the sidelines due to an arm injury. He has a pair of exciting mounts in the day’s most prestigious renewals. Speaking of his return, he said: “I am very excited to be coming back in time for the Moët and Chandon July Festival. It’s been a long time, I’ve been out for a whole month. Newmarket is my home town and the meeting is one of the highlights of my year.”

Of the two horses, Dettori went on: “I could have had five or six rides on Thursday but I thought it was sensible to ease myself back into things with just a couple. My first ride is on Denaar. I was aboard when he won his first two races, then I think he let the Royal Ascot atmosphere get to him in the Coventry Stakes. The other one is Wings Of Desire (Princess Of Wales’s Stakes), who I finished fourth on in last year’s Epsom Derby. He’s so laid back that we have decided to try him in cheekpieces, as they might just help him concentrate.”

Denaar is trained by Richard Hannon, who along with his father accounts for five victories in the last seven renewals of the two-year-old showpiece. The horse is owned by Al Shaqab Racing, as was 2015 winner Shalaa.

Tomorrow’s highlight is the Group One Falmouth Stakes, a race that usually attracts some of the best fillies and mares at a mile. This year’s renewal has the added attraction of an entrant from leading German trainer Andreas Wohler. He has brought Delectation over for the prestigious event, and appears confident of a decent performance.

He said of the three-year-old: “Delectation is really well and I think that she is still on an upward curve. She will have to be if she is going to go close in the Falmouth Stakes, as it looks a really tough race. The faster the ground the better for her, as at Deauville [the French 1000 Guineas] she was beaten after a couple of furlongs because of the soft going. She is a lot better than her fourth placing in the German 1000 Guineas shows. She needs to be ridden from behind, and Dusseldorf is a tricky course to pull that off. I have had a winner at the July Course, but that was a long time ago, and this will be my first runner at the July Festival.”

Another filly likely to court plenty of admirers, is Ballydoyle’s exciting juvenile Clemmie. She is set to take part in the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, and looked mightily impressive last time when winning a Group three at the Curragh. The stable took the race last year with Roly Poly, who looks likely to go off favourite for the Falmouth.

Saturday’s highlight is undoubtedly a thrilling renewal of the Darley July Cup. Unbeaten Caravaggio takes on several classy older sprinters, including last year’s stunning winner Limato. Harry Angel will ensure a rapid pace throughout the six-furlongs, and it’s set to be an absolute cracker.

Three thrilling days of high-class racing is guaranteed. And Newmarket certainly know how to put-on a show.